Why the Cook Islands?
If you spend your days dreaming of the quintessential South Pacific Island paradise with the most relaxed, laid back and friendly vibes on earth, then Cook Islands is the destination for you! This archipelago of 15 little emerald droplets is spread over 2 million square kilometers of vast Pacific Ocean, and with no building higher than a coconut palm, the Cook Islands will deliver a sense of freedom far beyond the hustle bustle of city life. Go for the romance, the azure blue lagoons, the happy Islanders, the natural beauty of the rugged interior, the deep sea fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving and the laid back pace. You won’t find a more perfect antithesis from the day to day than the Cook Islands. We can tailor an itinerary that takes you there as a connection from Australia or New Zealand or as an add on to a French Polynesian jaunt.
The Cook Islands has forged a name as a dream wedding destination for couples looking to begin their life together in paradise, with many couples choosing to stay on for their honeymoon. There are gorgeous, romantic adults-only boutiques and resorts on both Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Indulge in a spa treatment by a waterfall, or create a dream dining experience barefoot in the sand at a table for two set up just for yourselves on a stretch of beach lit by candlelight. Wake up in your suite overlooking Aitutaki Lagoon, one of the must-see places in the world. Enjoy an evening paddleboarding into the endless blue or lie back in a hammock with your loved one and enjoy the setting sun over the sea.
It’s a family affair
Cook Islanders are renowned for their love of family and will welcome your family to their beautiful island paradise with a friendly warmth and genuine sense of caring that immediately puts parents at ease, allowing them to recharge their batteries and have the holiday they have longed for. The island’s natural wonders provide a perfect outdoor playground for children, from the simple pleasures of snorkelling in the safety of lagoons, or viewing the wonders of the ocean from a glass-bottomed boat to easy jungle trekking, learning about the diverse flora and fauna of the islands.
Most resorts offer wonderful cultural entertainment for the whole family as well as kids clubs or babysitting for those nights when parents want some quality time to themselves. can be fussy eaters but Cook Island resorts and restaurants have a plethora of family-friendly options. There is nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than ‘feet in the sand’ dining where the kids can play on the beach while the parents enjoy a delicious drink.
We recommend a visit to one of the cultural villages, such as Te Vara Nui, where you will savour a Cook Island umu (earth oven) feast and have an unforgettable night of music, singing and dancing. Oceania Expeditions can ensure that your family’s experiences of the Cook Islands will be all that you wish for in this safe, friendly and unique part of paradise.
Oceania Expeditions can arrange authentic cultural village experiences to immerse yourselves in local life. Learn to weave local baskets, try your hand at wood carving while learning and learn the lores, customs, myths and legends of your hosts as you immerse yourself in traditional Polynesian life.
For foodies, you’ll love the taste of just-picked tropical fruits, the freshest seafood you can find and the scrumptious local specialty ‘ika mata’ raw fish marinated in coconut cream and lime. Visit the Punanga Nui Markets on a Saturday for fresh produce and crafts, or pop into a village church on Sunday for a taste of contemporary Tonga, and a dose of electrifying soulful gospel.
The Cook Islands offer some incredible back to nature experiences. Rarotonga is only 32 kms in circumference, and a cycle through the lanes and tracks with local storytellers delivers a compelling and genuine experience, highlighting the rich history and heritage with a focus on music, myths and culture of the land. Take a cross-island trek through the interior of the island and hear about traditional medicines and local flora and fauna. In Aitutaki, snorkel or dive the infamous lagoon abundant with coral, fish and turtles. For those willing to go a little further afield (see below), the rewards are enormous.
For those looking to venture off the beaten path, Atiu is an eco-lovers paradise. Its special appeal is the birdlife, festooned as it is with rare giant ferns and abundant foliage. The rarest, the Kopeka is a tiny swiftlet that navigates its flight in pitch black, sensing its journey using sonar. Found nowhere else in the world it lives inside the Anatakitaki limestone caves that edge the island. A walk through the caves is like entering a prehistoric cathedral from Lord of the Rings. Stalagmites and stalactites carve a pathway through crystal clear pools of water. It’s not hard to see why the caves are considered sacred and has traditionally been used as an ancestral burial site.
Atiu attracts adventurous spirits, willing to forego the luxury of Rarotonga and Atataki and step back 30 years into a Cook Islands before tourism existed. Life meanders at an (even more) leisurely pace, a tiny township is home to a handful of cafes, however most people still live a subsistence lifestyle. Gardens thrive in its rich soil and on certain days the soft aroma of organically grown coffee beans roasting wafts past from plantations that produce some of the best Arabica coffee in the Pacific.
Underground caves and lakes permeate the island of Mauke. Locals frolic in the swimming holes under the overhanging stalactites. Mitiaro is a natural playground featuring white sandy beaches, fossilized coral formations and coconut palms reaching high into a strikingly blue sky. Speak to Oceania Expeditions about tailoring a Cook Islands trip to explore places where few others have been.